Go to the previous chapter.
This glossary is only a tiny subset of all of the various terms and
other things that people regularly use on The Net. For a more
complete (and very entertaining) reference, it's suggested you get a
copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary, which is based on a VERY
large text file called the Jargon File. Edited by Eric Raymond
firstname.lastname@example.org), it is available from the MIT Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142; its ISBN number is
0-262-68069-6. Also see RFC-1208, A Glossary of
:-)This odd symbol is one of the ways a person can portray ``mood'' in
the very flat medium of computers---by using ``smilies.'' This is
`metacommunication', and there are literally hundreds of them, from
the obvious to the obscure. This particular example expresses
``happiness.'' Don't see it? Tilt your head to the left 90 degrees.
Smilies are also used to denote sarcasm.
address resolutionConversion of an Internet address to the corresponding physical address.
On an ethernet, resolution requires broadcasting on the local area network.
Administrative tasks, most often related to the maintenance of mailing
lists, digests, news gateways, etc.
anonymous FTPAlso known as ``anon FTP''; a service provided to make files available
to the general Internet community---see section Anonymous FTP.
The American National Standards Institute disseminates basic standards
like ASCII, and acts as the United States' delegate to the ISO.
Standards can be ordered from ANSI by writing to the ANSI Sales Department,
1430 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, or by telephoning
archieA service which provides lookups for packages in a database of the
offerings of countless of anonymous FTP sites. See section The archie Server for a
archive serverAn email-based file transfer facility offered by some systems.
ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency)Former name of DARPA, the government agency that funded ARPAnet and
later the DARPA Internet.
ARPAnetA pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It
served as the basis for early networking research as well as a
central backbone during the development of the Internet. The
ARPAnet consisted of individual packet switching computers
interconnected by leased lines. The ARPAnet no longer exists as a
asynchronousTransmission by individual bytes, not related to specific timing on the
auto-magicSomething which happens pseudo-automatically, and is usually too
complex to go into any further than to say it happens ``auto-magically.''
backboneA high-speed connection within a network that connects shorter,
usually slower circuits. Also used in reference to a system that acts
as a ``hub'' for activity (although those are becoming much less
prevalent now than they were ten years ago).
bandwidthThe capacity of a medium to transmit a signal. More informally, the
mythical ``size'' of The Net, and its ability to carry the files and
messages of those that use it. Some view certain kinds of traffic
(FTPing hundreds of graphics images, for example) as a ``waste of
bandwidth'' and look down upon them.
BITNET (Because It's Time Network)An NJE-based international educational network.
bounceThe return of a piece of mail because of an error in its delivery.
btwAn abbreviation for ``by the way.''
CFV (Call For Votes)Initiates the voting period for a Usenet newsgroup. At least one
(occasionally two or more) email address is customarily included as a
repository for the votes. See See section Newsgroup Creation
for a full description of the Usenet voting process.
ClariNewsThe fee-based Usenet newsfeed available from ClariNet Communications.
clientThe user of a network service; also used to describe a computer that
relies upon another for some or all of its resources.
CyberspaceA term coined by William Gibson in his fantasy novel
Neuromancer to describe the ``world'' of computers, and the
society that gathers around them.
datagramThe basic unit of information passed across the Internet. It contains
a source and destination address along with data. Large messages are
broken down into a sequence of IP datagrams.
disassemblingConverting a binary program into human-readable machine language code.
DNS (Domain Name System)The method used to convert Internet names to their corresponding
domainA part of the naming hierarchy. Syntactically, a domain name consists
of a sequence of names or other words separated by dots.
dotted quadA set of four numbers connected with periods that make up an Internet
address; for example,
emailThe vernacular abbreviation for electronic mail.
email addressThe UUCP or domain-based address that a user is referred to with. For
example, the author's address is
ethernetA 10-million bit per second networking scheme originally developed by
Xerox Corporation. Ethernet is widely used for LANs because it can
network a wide variety of computers, it is not proprietary, and
components are widely available from many commercial sources.
FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)An emerging standard for network technology based on fiber optics that
has been established by ANSI. FDDI specifies a 100-million bit per
second data rate. The access control mechanism uses token ring
flameA piece of mail or a Usenet posting which is violently argumentative.
FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name)The FQDN is the full site name of a system, rather than just its
hostname. For example, the system
lisa at Widener University
has a FQDN of
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)The Internet standard high-level protocol for transferring files from
one computer to another.
FYIAn abbreviation for the phrase ``for your information.'' There is
also a series of RFCs put out by the Network Information Center called
FYIs; they address common questions of new users and many other useful
things. See section Requests for Comments for instructions on retrieving FYIs.
gatewayA special-purpose dedicated computer that attaches to two or more
networks and routes packets from one network to the other. In
particular, an Internet gateway routes IP datagrams among the networks
it connects. Gateways route packets to other gateways until they can be
delivered to the final destination directly across one physical network.
headerThe portion of a packet, preceding the actual data, containing source
and destination addresses and error-checking fields. Also part of a
message or news article.
hostnameThe name given to a machine. (See also
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)This usually accompanies a statement that may bring about personal
offense or strong disagreement.
InternetA concatenation of many individual TCP/IP campus, state, regional, and
national networks (such as NSFnet, ARPAnet, and Milnet) into one
single logical network all sharing a common addressing scheme.
Internet numberThe dotted-quad address used to specify a certain system. The
Internet number for the site
188.8.131.52. A resolver is used to translate between
hostnames and Internet addresses.
interoperateThe ability of multi-vendor computers to work together using a common
set of protocols. With interoperability, PCs, Macs, Suns, Dec VAXen,
CDC Cybers, etc, all work together allowing one host computer to
communicate with and take advantage of the resources of another.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization)Coordinator of the main networking standards that are put into use today.
kernelThe level of an operating system or networking system that contains the
system-level commands or all of the functions hidden from the user. In
a Unix system, the kernel is a program that contains the device drivers,
the memory management routines, the scheduler, and system calls. This
program is always running while the system is operating.
LAN (Local Area Network)Any physical network technology that operates at high speed over short
distances (up to a few thousand meters).
mail gatewayA machine that connects to two or more electronic mail systems
(especially dissimilar mail systems on two different networks) and
transfers mail messages among them.
mailing listA possibly moderated discussion group, distributed via email from a
central computer maintaining the list of people involved in the
mail pathA series of machine names used to direct electronic mail from one user
mediumThe material used to support the transmission of data. This can be
copper wire, coaxial cable, optical fiber, or electromagnetic wave (as in
multiplexThe division of a single transmission medium into multiple logical
channels supporting many simultaneous sessions. For example, one
network may have simultaneous FTP, telnet, rlogin, and SMTP
connections, all going at the same time.
net.citizenAn inhabitant of Cyberspace. One usually tries to be a good
net.citizen, lest one be flamed.
netiquetteA pun on ``etiquette''; proper behavior on The Net. See section Usenet ``Netiquette''.
networkA group of machines connected together so they can transmit information
to one another. There are two kinds of networks: local networks and
NFS (Network File System)A method developed by Sun Microsystems to allow computers to share
files across a network in a way that makes them appear as if they're
``local'' to the system.
NICThe Network Information Center.
nodeA computer that is attached to a network; also called a host.
NSFnetThe national backbone network, funded by the National Science Foundation
and operated by the Merit Corporation, used to interconnect regional
(mid-level) networks such as WestNet to one another.
packetThe unit of data sent across a packet switching network. The term is
used loosely. While some Internet literature uses it to refer
specifically to data sent across a physical network, other literature
views the Internet as a packet switching network and describes IP
datagrams as packets.
pollingConnecting to another system to check for things like mail or news.
postmasterThe person responsible for taking care of mail problems, answering
queries about users, and other related work at a site.
protocolsA formal description of message formats and the rules two computers must
follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level
details of machine-to-machine interfaces (e.g., the order in which bits
and bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between
allocation programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file
across the Internet).
recursionThe facility of a programming language to be able to call functions
from within themselves.
resolveTranslate an Internet name into its equivalent IP address or other DNS
RFD (Request For Discussion)Usually a two- to three-week period in which the particulars of
newsgroup creation are battled out.
routeThe path that network traffic takes from its source to its destination.
routerA dedicated computer (or other device) that sends packets from one
place to another, paying attention to the current state of the network.
RTFM (Read The Fantastic Manual).This anacronym is often used when someone asks a simple or common
question. The word `Fantastic' is usually replaced with one much more
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)The Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail messages
from one computer to another. SMTP specifies how two mail systems
interact and the format of control messages they exchange to transfer
serverA computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files, with
other computers on the network. An example of this is a Network File
System (NFS) server which shares its disk space with other computers.
signal-to-noise ratioWhen used in reference to Usenet activity, signal-to-noise
ratio describes the relation between amount of actual information in
a discussion, compared to their quantity. More often than not,
there's substantial activity in a newsgroup, but a very small number
of those articles actually contain anything useful.
signatureThe small, usually four-line message at the bottom of a piece of email
or a Usenet article. In Unix, it's added by creating a file
.signature in the user's home directory. Large signatures are
summarizeTo encapsulate a number of responses into one coherent, usable
message. Often done on controlled mailing lists or active newsgroups,
to help reduce bandwidth.
synchronousData communications in which transmissions are sent at a fixed rate,
with the sending and receiving devices synchronized.
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)A set of protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts, used by the Internet to
support services such as remote login (telnet), file transfer
(FTP) and mail (SMTP).
telnetThe Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection service.
Telnet allows a user at one site to interact with a remote timesharing
system at another site as if the user's terminal were connected directly
to the remote computer.
terminal serverA small, specialized, networked computer that connects many terminals to
a LAN through one network connection. Any user on the network can then
connect to various network hosts.
@TeXA free typesetting system by Donald Knuth.
twisted pairCable made up of a pair of insulated copper wires wrapped around each
other to cancel the effects of electrical noise.
UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Program)A store-and-forward system, primarily for Unix systems but currently
supported on other platforms (e.g. VMS and personal computers).
WAN (Wide-Area Network)A network spanning hundreds or thousands of miles.
workstationA networked personal computing device with more power than a standard
IBM PC or Macintosh. Typically, a workstation has an operating system
such as unix that is capable of running several tasks at the same time.
It has several megabytes of memory and a large, high-resolution display.
Examples are Sun workstations and Digital DECstations.
wormA computer program which replicates itself. The Internet worm
(see section The Internet Worm) was perhaps the most famous; it
successfully (and accidentally) duplicated itself on systems across
wrtWith respect to.
@vskip 0pt plus 1filll
``I hate definitions.''
Vivian Grey, bk i chap ii